BY RYAN WELLICOME
Knowledge is acquired throughout life and the County of Lacombe Lifelong Learning Association (CLLLA) is trying to nurture that growth.
The CLLLA is a non-profit organization that facilitates adult learning through on-site and remote training programs and courses.
“We want to encourage people to try new things. Encourage them to step outside their boxes and encourage them to better themselves,” said CLLLA Executive Director Dani Ducross.
“Whether it’s social interactions, whether it’s getting skills to improve financial or employment situations or if it’s just to get out and make some friends.”
The CLLLA operates on an organizational mandate to provide learning in various categories including employability skills, essential skills – such as basic numeracy, literacy and oral communication – along with GED prep programs.
The organization has been offering a free GED prep program for two years that is funded by the Alberta Government.
The program runs for approximately eight weeks, with classes three nights per week.
The program includes materials (books, stationary and a calculator), one free GED exam and one exam rewrite.
Classes are done through remote video chat with the CLLLA offering on-site support throughout the program.
“We’ve had probably an 85 per cent success rate out of (the) program,” said Ducross.
“It’s been really good so far.”
Ducross said that those students that failed to pass their initial exam often have ‘test anxiety’ and when offered the rewrite, “They usually come out of it pretty good.”
Essential skills are taught as part of the Lacombe Adult Literacy Program, free of charge.
The Adult Literacy Program operates around nine essential, teachable skills: reading, writing, numeracy, oral communication, document use, collaboration with others, critical thinking, computer use and continuous learning.
The program offers one on one tutoring in basic math, computer skills and speaking, reading and writing skills in English or French.
Through the program, CLLLA offers free English as a second language (ESL) courses that also make partially subsidized childcare available.
“I think (the ESL program) had around nine people, when it started. Now we have between 80-100 people,” said Ducross.
The Lacombe Adult Literacy Program relies on volunteer tutors to continue running and is currently seeking more.
The CLLLA is also a Campus Alberta Central (CAC) learning site.
CAC affords adult students in the community with familial and employment obligations the ability to take post-secondary courses remotely.
Through video chat facilitated by the CLLLA students can complete courses and programs at Red Deer College and Olds College without having to commute or relocate.
Making the opportunities available is not the only job of the CLLLA.
Awareness presents a challenge for the organization.
“To get people in and get people taking them; that is the hardest thing,” said Ducross.
“(We) need to be able to promote that we have (the programs) here. It’s getting the information out there and then getting people in here.
“It’s kind of two-fold.”
The CLLLA publishes a semi-annual newsletter called Don’t Hibernate that offers course information and acts as an activity guide, highlighting events and activities available in Lacombe.
Offering written content to prospective clients can provide some challenge.
“The Don’t Hibernate brochure gets well distributed and we get lots of feedback but sometimes if we are trying to help with literacy in an area, a written material is not the best because you not going to pick it up and read through it,” said Ducross.
In addition to its mandated programs, the CLLLA offers various paid courses.
Practical life-skills classes such as bookkeeping, budgeting, marriage communication, and basics of wills and estates are offered in order to help with quality of life.
The organization offers computer classes to educate attendees regarding basic computer skills and other concepts including maintenance, cloud computing and tablet use.
Computer courses geared specifically toward seniors teach basic computer, email and Internet skills, digital photo transferring and facebook for beginners.
According to Ducross, the computer courses are among the most popular courses<